|Publication number||US7162005 B2|
|Application number||US 10/199,781|
|Publication date||Jan 9, 2007|
|Filing date||Jul 19, 2002|
|Priority date||Jul 19, 2002|
|Also published as||EP1540664A2, EP1540664A4, EP1540664B1, US20040057554, WO2004010162A2, WO2004010162A3|
|Publication number||10199781, 199781, US 7162005 B2, US 7162005B2, US-B2-7162005, US7162005 B2, US7162005B2|
|Original Assignee||Varian Medical Systems Technologies, Inc.|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (79), Non-Patent Citations (3), Referenced by (76), Classifications (17), Legal Events (7)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
Radiation sources and radiation scanning systems. More particularly, X-ray radiation sources emitting radiation transverse to a longitudinal axis of the source and X-ray scanning systems using such sources for examining the contents of an object, for example.
Radiation is commonly used in the non-invasive inspection of objects such as luggage, bags, briefcases, and the like, to identify hidden contraband at airports and public buildings. The contraband may include hidden guns, knives, explosive devices and illegal drugs, for example.
Radiation transmitted through the object 12 is attenuated to varying degrees by the object and its contents. The attenuation of the radiation is a function of the density and atomic composition of the materials through which the radiation beam passes. The attenuated radiation is detected and radiographic images of the contents of the object 12 are generated for inspection. The images show the shape, size and varying densities of the contents.
The source 14 is typically a source of X-ray radiation of about 160 KeV to about 450 KeV. The X-ray source 14 in this energy range may be an X-ray tube. As shown in
X-ray radiation of 450 KeV will not completely penetrate large objects such as cargo containers. Standard cargo containers are typically 20–50 feet long (6.1–15.2 meters), 8 feet high (2.4 meters) and 6–9 feet wide (1.8–2.7 meters). Air cargo containers, which are used to contain plural pieces of luggage stored in the body of an airplane, may range in size from about 35×21×21 inches (0.89×0.53×0.53 meters) up to about 240×96×118 inches (6.1×2.4×3.0 meters). In contrast, typical airport scanning systems for carry-on bags have tunnel entrances up to about 0.40×0.60 meters. Only bags that fit through the tunnel may be inspected. Scanning systems for checked luggage have tunnel openings that are only slightly larger. Large collections of objects, such as many pieces of luggage, may also be supported on a pallet. Pallets, which may have supporting side walls, may be of comparable sizes as cargo containers. The low energies used in typical X-ray luggage and bag scanners, described above, are too low to penetrate through the much larger cargo containers or collections of objects. In addition, many such systems are too slow to economically inspect larger objects, such as cargo containers.
To inspect larger cargo containers, X-ray radiation of at least about 1 MeV range is required. Linear accelerators may be used to generate X-ray radiation in the MeV range. Linear accelerators are long (about 12–18 inches). In addition, the intensity of the radiation is greatest in a forward direction, along the longitudinal axis of the electron beam. The uniformity of the emitted radiation decreases as the angle from the forward direction is increased. To maintain beam uniformity, at average energy distortions of about 9 MeV, for example, narrow beams having an arc up to about 30 degrees tend to be used. With average energy distributions of about 3 MeV, beams having an arc up to about 65 degrees may be used. The smaller the arc, the farther the source must be in order to intercept the entire object. The length of the high energy X-ray sources and the beam arc tend to make higher energy X-ray scanning systems large. Since the space occupied by an X-ray scanning system could often be used for other important purposes, a more compact X-ray scanning system would be advantageous.
Microwave power enters one of the cavities along the chain, through an iris 66 to accelerate the electron beam. The linear accelerator is excited by microwave power at a frequency near its resonant frequency, between about 1000 to about 10,000 MHz, for example. After being accelerated, the electron beam 58 strikes the target 60, causing the emission of X-ray radiation.
Movable plungers or probes 68 extend radially into one of the coupling cavities 70. One probe 68 is shown in
In accordance with one embodiment of the invention, an X-ray source is disclosed comprising a source of high energy electrons that travel along a longitudinal path. Target material lies along the longitudinal path and X-ray radiation is generated due to impact of the high energy electrons with the target. Shielding material is provided around at least a portion of the target. The shielding material defines a slot extending from the target to an exterior surface of the shielding material, to allow passage of generated radiation. The slot has an axis transverse to the longitudinal path. The axis may be perpendicular to the longitudinal path. The shielding material may define a plurality of slots extending from the target to an exterior surface of the shielding material and the axis of at least some of the plurality of slots may be perpendicular to the longitudinal path, as well.
The source of high energy electrons may comprise a source of electrons and an accelerating chamber. The chamber receives electrons from the source and accelerates the electrons. The accelerating chamber may be a linear accelerator, for example. The longitudinal path is defined in part by a tube extending from the source of high energy electrons, wherein the shielding material is around at least a portion of the tube.
In accordance with another embodiment, an X-ray source is disclosed comprising a housing defining a chamber to accelerate electrons and an output of the chamber. The chamber has a first longitudinal axis and the output is aligned with the first longitudinal axis to allow passage of accelerated electrons from the chamber. A tube defining a passage having a second longitudinal axis has a proximal end coupled to the output of the housing such that the second longitudinal axis is aligned with the first longitudinal axis and accelerated electrons can enter the passage. A target material is provided within the tube, wherein impact of the target material by accelerated electrons causes generation of X-ray radiation. Shielding material is provided around at least a portion of the tube around the target. The shielding material defines a slot extending from the target to an exterior surface of the shielding material. The slot allows the generated radiation to exit. The slot has an axis transverse to the first and second longitudinal axes. The axis of the slot may be perpendicular to the first and second axes. The slot may define a fan beam or a cone beam, for example. The housing may be a linear accelerator, for example.
The shielding material may define a plurality of slots extending from the target to the exterior surface of the shielding material. The slots may be transverse to the first and second axes. The slots may each have a respective axis perpendicular to the first and second axes.
Two shielded targets comprising target material surrounded by shielding material defining a slot through the shielding material, may be provided and a bend magnet may selectively direct electrons to one or the other target. One target may be aligned with the longitudinal axis of the housing and a second bend magnet may be provided to direct electrons from the first bend magnet to the other shielded target. When used in a scanning unit, each slot may irradiate a different side of an object being examined.
In accordance with another embodiment of the invention, a system for examining an object comprises a conveyor system to move the object through the system along a first longitudinal axis and a source of radiation. The source of radiation comprises a source of high energy electrons that travel along a longitudinal path. A target material lies along the longitudinal path. The target material generates X-ray radiation when impacted by the high energy electrons. Shielding material is provided around at least a portion of the target. The shielding material defines a slot extending from the target to an exterior surface of the shielding material, to allow passage of the generated radiation. The slot has an axis transverse to the longitudinal path. The radiation source is positioned with respect to the conveying system such that radiation emitted through the slot will irradiate an object for inspection on the conveying system. The source of radiation may be on a first side of the conveying system and a detector may be provided on a second side of the conveying system to detect radiation transmitted through the object. The source of radiation may be a source of X-ray radiation.
The radiation source may have a second longitudinal axis and the first longitudinal axis and the second longitudinal axis may form an acute angle. The smaller the angle between the first and second longitudinal axes, the more compact the scanning system. For example, the acute angle may be less than or equal to 45 degrees. The acute angle may be less than or equal to 10 degrees, for a more compact system. The first longitudinal axis and the second longitudinal axis may also be parallel for an even more compact system.
The shielding material may define a plurality of slots to form a plurality of radiation beams transverse to the longitudinal path. A corresponding plurality of conveying systems may be provided so that the plurality of radiation beams may be used to examine a plurality of objects concurrently. A corresponding number of shutters may be coupled to the system, to selectively close one or more of the slots when not needed.
In accordance with another embodiment of the invention, a scanning system is disclosed comprising two targets surrounded by shielding material defining respective slots and one or two bend magnets to selectively direct the electrons to one or the other target. The slots in the shielded targets are positioned with respect to a conveying system to irradiate different sides of an object.
In accordance with another embodiment, an X-ray scanning system to examine an object is disclosed comprising a conveyor system to move the object through the system along a first longitudinal axis and an elongated X-ray source having a second longitudinal axis. The X-ray source is capable of emitting X-ray radiation with an average energy of at least 1 MeV and is supported adjacent to the conveying system such that the first longitudinal axis is parallel to the second longitudinal axis. The X-ray source may be on a first side of the conveying system and a detector may be on a second side of the conveying system, to detect X-ray radiation transmitted through the object.
A method of generating X-ray radiation is also disclosed comprising colliding high energy electrons traveling along a longitudinal path with a target surrounded by shielding material to generate radiation and collimating the generated radiation into a radiation beam transverse to the longitudinal path by a slot extending from the target through the shielding material.
A method of examining contents of an object with a radiation source is also disclosed also comprising colliding high energy electrons traveling along a longitudinal path with a target surrounded by shielding material to generate radiation. The generated radiation is collimated into a radiation beam transverse to the longitudinal path by a slot extending from the target through the shielding material. The object is irradiated and radiation interacting with the object is detected.
A target material 108 of a metal with a high atomic number and a high melting point, such as tungsten or another refractory metal, is provided at distal end of the drift tube 106. Shielding material 110, such as tungsten, steel or lead, is provided around the drift tube 106, the target material 108 and may extend over a distal portion of the linear accelerator body 102, as well. The shielding material 110 may be in the shape of a sphere, for example, and the target material 108 may be at the center of the sphere, within the drift tube 106. The shielding material 110 may have other shapes, as well. The drift tube 106, the target material 108 and the shielding material 110 are referred to as a “shielded target 111”.
A collimating slot 112 extends from the end of the drift tube 106, through the shielding material 110, transverse to the longitudinal axis L1 of the linear accelerator body 102. In the embodiment of
The electron beam 104 emitted by the linear accelerator body 102 along the longitudinal axis L1 passes through the drift tube 106 and impacts the material 108. Bremstrahlung X-ray radiation is emitted from the target material 108 in all directions. The radiation emitted in the direction of the collimating slot 112 is collimated into the desired shape and emitted from the device 100. The shielding material 110 absorbs radiation emitted in directions away from the collimating slot 112.
As mentioned above, while the radiation emitted in the forward direction has the highest intensity, the intensity drops rapidly as the angle from the forward direction increases. While the intensity of the radiation emitted perpendicular to the direction of the electron beam impacting the target material 108 is much less than the intensity of the radiation emitted in the forward direction, it is very uniform and is sufficient for scanning objects such as cargo containers and luggage.
In this embodiment, the axis 4—4 of the slot 112 is perpendicular to the longitudinal axis L1 of the X-ray source 100 (and perpendicular to the direction of the beam of electrons). The axis of the slot may be at other angles transverse to the longitudinal axis L1, as well. For example,
While it is preferred to provide the drift tube 106 or other such passage from the output 109 of the linear accelerator body 102 to facilitate placement of shielding around the target material, that is not required. The target material 108 may be positioned at the output, as shown in
The L-shaped detector array 205 is electrically coupled to an image processor block 218, which is coupled to a display 220. The image processor block 218 comprises analog-to-digital conversion and digital processing components, as is known in the art. A computer 222 is electrically coupled to and controls the operation of one or more of the X-ray source, the detector array, the conveyor system, the image processor and the display. The connections between the computer and all the components are not shown, to simplify the Figure. The computer may provide the processing functions of the image processor.
As shown in
Since the longitudinal axis L1 of the X-ray source 100 is parallel to the longitudinal axis L2 of the conveyor system 202, the X-ray scanning unit 200 of
While the size of the scanning unit is most compact when the longitudinal axis L1 of the X-ray source 100 is parallel to the longitudinal axis L2, of the conveying system 202, benefits may be obtained when the longitudinal axis L1 is at an acute angle with respect to the longitudinal axis L2. The improvements increase as the angle decreases. Significant reductions in size may be obtained when the longitudinal axis L1 is at an angle of 45 degrees or less with respect to the longitudinal axis L2. Even more of a size reduction may be obtained when the angle between the longitudinal axis L1 and the longitudinal axis L2 is 10 degrees or less. As mentioned above, the maximum improvement is obtained when L2 is parallel to L1.
Shutters 312, 315 of shielding material, such as lead, steel or tungsten, may be pivotally or slidably attached to the shielding material 314, the body of the X-ray source 302 or to the scanning unit 300. The shutters selectively cover one or the other collimating slot 304, 306 when a respective side of the scanning unit 300 is not being used, as shown in more detail in
As above, the detectors 316, 318 are L-shaped. Openings 326, 328 are also provided in the far sides of the shielded tunnels 320, 322 to allow for passage of the radiation from the cargo containers 311, 313 to the detectors 316, 318. Two image processors 340, 342 are electrically coupled to the detectors 316, 318 respectively. Two displays 344, 346 are electrically coupled to the image processors 340, 342, respectively. A computer 348 controls operation of the scanning unit 300. The cargo scanning unit 300 can examine twice as many cargo containers using a single X-ray device 302, as in the embodiment of
To further increase number of cargo containers that can be examined at one time, three collimating slots 402 or four collimating slots 404 may also be provided in the shielded target material of the X-ray source 100 (
In these embodiments, the longitudinal axes of the X-ray sources 400, 403 and the three conveying systems 412 a, 412 b, 412 c or the four conveying systems 422 a, 422 b, 422 c, 422 d are parallel. The arc of the beams emitted from each slot depends on the configuration of the system. The sum of the arcs of the beams cannot exceed 360 degrees. The arc of each beam in the three conveyor system 410 may be about 90 degrees to about 110 degrees, for example. The arc of each beam in the four conveyor system 410 may be about 75 degrees to about 90 degrees, for example.
The arc of each beam need not be the same. For example, if each conveyor system is meant to handle different sized objects, the arcs of the respective beams directed to each conveyor system may be different. In addition, the axes of each of the slots need not be at the same angle with respect to the longitudinal axis of the X-ray source. For example, certain of the axes may be perpendicular and others at some other transverse angle. It is also noted that a single collimating slot extending 360 degrees may be used to illuminate cargo containers on all of the conveying systems, if desired. Extra shielding may then be provided in the scanning system, if needed.
As above, mechanical shutters (not shown) may be provided to cover one or more of the collimating slots, as desired or required. Supporting structures for the source and the upper conveying systems, which are not shown to simplify the figures, may be readily provided by one of ordinary skill in the art.
It is noted that in the lower sections of the scanning units 410, 420, the L-shaped detectors 414, 424 have arm portions 416, 426 below the respective conveying systems 412 b, 412 c, 422 c, 422 d.
Separate image processor blocks and displays (not shown) may be provided for each conveying system in each scanning unit 410, 420. Each scanning unit 410, 420 may be controlled by a single computer, also not shown. Other elements are common to the scanning unit 200 of
The two shielded targets 504, 506 are shown irradiating two perpendicular sides of a cargo container 530. The remainder of the scanning unit, which may be the same as in the scanning unit of
Depending on space constraints in the configuration of the scanning unit, it may be advantageous to align the linear accelerator body 502 with one of the shielded targets.
The configuration of the detector or detector array may depend on the shape of the collimated radiation beam. For example, if the radiation beam is collimated into a fan beam, a one-dimensional detector array may be provided. A one dimensional detector array may comprise a single row of detector elements. If the collimated radiation beam is a cone beam, such as an asymmetric pyramidal cone beam, the detector array may be a two dimensional detector or detector comprising two or more adjacent rows of detector elements. The detector array may comprise a plurality of modules of detectors, each comprising one or more rows of detector elements supported in a housing.
The L-shaped detector arrays may comprise conventional detectors. For example, the detectors may be a scintillator coupled to discrete photodiodes. The detectors may also comprise a scintillator coupled to a photomultiplier tube, for example, as is known in the art. X-ray photons impinging upon the scintillator cause the emission of light photons energies proportional to the energy of the X-ray photons. The light photons are detected by the photomultiplier tube, whose output is proportional to the energy of the detected light photons. A scintillator based detector may be particularly useful if the X-ray source selectively emits radiation having multiple energy distributions. The scintillator may be a cesium iodide scintillator, for example. Pulse Height Analysis (“PHA”) may be used to analyze the data from the detectors. The detector may also be amorphous silicon detectors available from Varian Medical Systems, Inc., Palo Alto, Calif., for example.
Detectors may be positioned between the X-ray source and the cargo container to detect radiation scattered by the cargo container, in addition to or instead of detecting transmitted radiation.
While the X-ray sources described above comprise from one (1) to four (4) collimating slots to form one (1) to four (4) radiation beams, additional collimating slots may be provided to form additional radiation beams. In any of the X-ray sources, the collimating slots may have the same or different arcs and define either fan beams or cone beams, or both in the same source. In addition, the transverse angle between the axis of each slot and the longitudinal axis of the X-ray source or the path of the electrons may be the same or different.
The use of the term cargo container, above, encompasses pallets, which are comparably sized. In addition, while the scanning units described above are described as cargo scanning units to examine cargo containers, the scanning units may be used to examine other objects, such as luggage, bags, briefcases and the like.
In addition, while the X-ray sources described above use a linear accelerator body as a source of high energy electrons, the X-ray source may use an X-ray tube or other such device, as well.
One of ordinary skill in the art will recognize that other changes may be made to the embodiments described herein without departing from the scope of the invention, which is defined by the claims, below.
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|U.S. Classification||378/57, 378/143|
|International Classification||H05G1/00, G21F1/08, G01N23/04, G21K5/00, G01T, H01J35/08, H05H9/00, G21K5/02, G01V5/00, G21G1/00|
|Cooperative Classification||H01J2235/087, G01V5/0016, H01J35/16|
|European Classification||G01V5/00D2, H01J35/16|
|Nov 26, 2002||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: VARIAN MEDICAL SYSTEMS, INC, CALIFORNIA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:BJORKHOLM, PAUL;REEL/FRAME:013531/0041
Effective date: 20021030
|Oct 27, 2003||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: VARIAN MEDICAL SYSTEMS TECHNOLOGY, INC., CALIFORNI
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:VARIAN MEDICAL SYSTEMS, INC.;REEL/FRAME:014621/0932
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|Jun 23, 2004||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: VARIAN MEDICAL SYSTEMS TECHNOLOGIES, INC., CALIFOR
Free format text: CORRECTION OF SPELLING OF NAME OF ASSIGNEE;ASSIGNOR:VARIAN MEDICAL SYSTEMS, INC.;REEL/FRAME:014769/0649
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|Oct 13, 2008||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: VARIAN MEDICAL SYSTEMS, INC., CALIFORNIA
Free format text: MERGER;ASSIGNOR:VARIAN MEDICAL SYSTEMS TECHNOLOGIES, INC.;REEL/FRAME:021669/0848
Effective date: 20080926
|Jul 9, 2010||FPAY||Fee payment|
Year of fee payment: 4
|Jul 9, 2014||FPAY||Fee payment|
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|Jan 28, 2017||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: VAREX IMAGING CORPORATION, UTAH
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:VARIAN MEDICAL SYSTEMS, INC.;REEL/FRAME:041602/0309
Effective date: 20170125